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Advertising in the telecommunications sector receives a lukewarm response

The Financial Mail AdForum events, in association with Ornico Group showcase a selection of recently frequently flighted commercials in a particular sector. In May, the telecommunications sector and broadband providers were under the spotlight. The commercials featured were flighted between February and April 2019 and voted on by the audience using red cards (implying it could have done better), or green cards (showing their approval). A panel of industry experts critiqued each commercial in detail offering insights on both the category and the industry in some instance.

Great advertisers make commercials that sell products and services, pointed out Phumi Mashego, founding partner of Ignitive. In today’s world, consumers don’t have to sit through commercials they don’t like – which is why it’s so important that brands only flight advertising that resonates.

Great advertisers make commercials that sell products and services.

The audience reacted very positively to a commercial for Cell C which the panel largely agreed worked. The storyline taps into a frustration most parents of teenagers can relate to, pointed out Avatar creative head, Grant Sithole, adding that it’s an easy story to follow.

A commercial for Huawei P30 Series, however, fared less well, receiving mixed reviews from the audience who criticised it for offering only a list of features and for being an overseas commercial. “Mobile phone advertising doesn’t have to be emotive,” pointed out Arye Kellman, co-founder and creative director at Tilt, a specialist social media agency. The panel agreed the commercial would have worked better if it had been localised.

An MTN commercial elicited primarily green cards with audience members highlighting the fact that although it was a product advert, a storyline had been included. “The commercial is telling a great story and seamlessly includes a retail message,” said Sithole.

Despite the fact that most brands push traditional advertising messages to social platforms, MTN had capitalised on something that had taken place on social media and pushed it onto a traditional platform. “The result is a commercial that works very nicely and translates seamlessly onto other platforms,” said Mongezi Mtati, Marketing Manager at Ornico.

Both the audience and the panel were ambivalent about an MWeb commercial featuring its ubiquitous chameleons which they said tried to be funny but missed the mark. “It’s not a terrible ad but clearly had a much lower budget. The commercial utilises a particularly Capetonian vibe which doesn’t land very well in Johannesburg,” said Kellman.

Although a PEPcell retail commercial was criticised for not being particularly exciting, Natalie Katz, Senior Strategic Lead, VML South Africa defended it by saying it serves its purpose and gets the job done.

The panel agreed that the execution of a Samsung Galaxy commercial didn’t work although the product’s features were beautifully shown. They agreed that in a different context the commercial could have worked, perhaps with the addition of a local track and local visuals. “It’s trying to be an iPhone lifestyle commercial and it just doesn’t work,” said Mtati.

A Telkom commercial received a unanimous red card and was criticised for not being memorable in any way. “To be successful commercials need to tell a story that people can connect to. This could have been a print ad and could have been reduced to a six second spot which only aired the offer,” said Mtati. “In its current form this commercial is a waste of time and nobody is going to get it, which is unfortunate because it’s a credible offer,” said Katz.

A commercial for Vast Networks which utilised a super hero theme received a mixed reviews. The panel were unanimous that the idea didn’t work.

“On a storyboard the idea of a super hero would work. However, the commercial didn’t have the resources to deliver on that theme because they have not invested much in the way of animation,” said Kellman.

A Vodacom commercial showing a father and son camping out in their living room was similarly red carded. It’s a commercial that made some really poor choices, said Sithole adding that he was uncomfortable with the tone the father takes when speaking to the mother. “Socially it just hits so many wrong notes,” he said.

Kellman agreed, adding that this commercial was not an efficient use of marketing budget.

Commenting on the commercials under review, Kellman says it feels as though the sector as a whole is not producing sufficiently progressive advertising. “Marketing managers need to be a little more edgy and creatives need to push a little harder,” he said.

Katz agreed, adding that unless the commercial is useful, compelling or entertaining, it should go back to the drawing board. “Consumers will quickly forget forgettable brands,” she said.

Telecommunications advertising needs to become a little more progressive.

Download the insights presentation of how much leading brands have spent over the period along with the channels they chose which provides a view of how marketers are targeting customers: http://jo.my/tele

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